Mar 06, 2002
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Ebey's Landing
- Region: Puget Sound and Islands -- Whidbey Island
- Avg Rating: 3.67
Needing a break from a couple of months hiking in the desert areas I avoided the messy drive over the mountains and hiked into history. I never have even been out to Whidbey Island before so a day hiking the bluff and beach trails at Ebey Landing was a real joy! The weather was pure sunshine in this rainshadow neck of the woods, but it was so cold I almost thought I needed to skip the hiking and enjoy nature from the car. Sure, it was sunny, but it was 28-32 degrees outside with the north wind blowing across Puget Sound at a 30-40 MPH clip! Here was the initial surge of the promised cold weather for certain. I found it funny that here at sea level I was to hike in the coldest most brutal winter conditions and temperatures that I have had all winter anywhere! After bundling up at the trailhead parking lot I headed up the steps past the outhouse and history interpretive signs to hike the upper bluff trail first. All along the first portion of the lower bluff signs of the spring wake-up of native plants was surrounding me, and to the east the fields of Ebey Prairie were busily being worked. After hiking along the cultivated field for 1/4 mile I made the side-trip up the Ebey Prairie trail, which is well signed. This gives a great eastern view across the vast open prairie land which has been actively cultivated for 120+ years. The sun danced patterns across the fields and snow lined mountains tower in the distance. I enjoyed seeing a small covey of three quail and also spotted a mourning dove along the fence line! This trail ends by the historic Sunnyside Cemetery, which I hiked around through as well. The blockhouse building which was built in 1855 is a real treat to explore, and I've never seen so many headstones marked well over 100 years old. I enjoy stomping around places like this...it is peaceful and the folks residing here don't talk back at me too much. Across from the cemetery is a great overlook over the Ebey Prairie area as well and worth checking out the interpretive signs there. I quickly hiked back the 1/3 mile to the bluff trail and entered what is the lands bought by the Nature Conservancy. The next 1+ mile of trail is fascinating, winding up and down along the top of the bluff, passing grand old weathered trees which take the brunt of all storms, and great views across Admiralty Inlet and down at the lagoon and beach areas below. I really want to return back in the spring to see and photograph the rare golden paintbrush that blooms along here, one of the only places it is known in Washington. By this time I almost wasn't noticing the 40+ mph winds blasting my body, but photography was difficult to say the least since I couldn't stand still and my tripod couldn't either! At the far northern end of the lagoon area a trail heads down to the beach VERY steeply. From here I hiked north along the beach another 1/2 mile before heading back along the beach the 2 miles to the parking area. Massive ancient piles of driftwood line the top of the spit enclosing the lagoon making for fascinating photography. The bluffs above look ancient and very weather-worn. The hike back showed yet more wildlife as buffleheads filled the lagoon, mergansers and goldeneyes dotted the sound, and I finally spotted two seals in the heavy surf, which was hard to see anything out there as the waves were crashing 3-6' high in the intense winds! Occasionally a Navy plane roared over the open waters to the north, and the views toward the Olympics were as good as they get. With binoculars I could even make out the Dungeness Spit lighthouse on this crystal clear day! Slowly I hiked all the way back, the trek feeling 8 miles instead of 2 since I explored so much. This is a perfect corner of the world to visit any time of year, but a winter day of sunshine when the mountains are buried makes this seem even more special. I was surprised that there are no signs at all along SR 20 indicating where to get there, as every state park around is well signed. After leaving I also stopped in at Fort Ebey State Park and hiked around the Gun Battery area and much of the 1 mile trail north of there that eventually leads to the beach areas that are north of those areas hiked by the Ebey Landing lagoons. Great day of beach exploring and it felt amazing that I saw not a single person anywhere all day!